- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001


KANSAS CITY, Mo. To say Calvin Maduro had waited some time for this would be a gross understatement of the situation, unless you consider four years to be some time.

"It feels like forever since I got a win," Maduro said last night after leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Forever being May 9, 1997. That's the last time Maduro won a major league baseball game. Since then, the 26-year-old right-hander has bounced back and forth from the minors to the big leagues, was released by the Philadelphia Phillies, twice signed as a minor league free agent with the Orioles and spent more than two months this season at Rochester.

Perhaps that brief history of the native Aruban's pro baseball career and admittedly, few fans out there likely know the details of his story will help underscore how significant last night's win over the Royals was for Maduro.

Making his third start of the season after replacing Willis Roberts in the Orioles' rotation, Maduro carried a perfect game into the sixth inning before surrendering a run and two hits to Kansas City. He suffered all night from stiffness in his lower back and was pulled before the seventh, with relievers Kris Foster, Ryan Kohlmeier and Roberts combining to finish off the Royals and secure Maduro's personally satisfying victory.

"I wasn't thinking at all about the win," he said. "I was just thinking, 'Go out there and if I keep doing what I'm doing, the wins will come.' I was mostly thinking about the win in the clubhouse watching TV [before the game]."

Roberts, who entered with two on and one out in the ninth, was credited with the first save of his career, a milestone moment in his development into a closer.

"It's very good for me," said Roberts, who struck out Mark Quinn and got Brent Mayne to fly out to end the game. "I don't think too much about it, because I just want the opportunity to throw at the end of a game. I didn't think today that they'd pitch me in the ninth inning."

Since rejoining the Orioles on June 21, Maduro has done virtually no wrong. As the bullpen's mop-up man, he allowed five runs in 17!= innings, equating to a 2.60 ERA. And since taking over the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, he has posted a sparkling 2.29 ERA while making three consecutive quality starts.

Yet it took until the second week of August for Maduro simply to appear in a game the Orioles won. Baltimore had been 0-12 in games he pitched until last night.

The Royals hardly hit a clean ball off Maduro (1-3) for five innings, with left fielder Larry Bigbie's sliding catch of Raul Ibanez's sinking fly ball in the second inning the only tough defensive play necessary. Maduro took the mound in the bottom of the sixth with one of the most unlikely perfect games in history on the line, but Dee Brown dashed any hopes of a history-making night when he lined Maduro's 1-0 fastball into center field for Kansas City's first hit.

Maduro proceeded to plunk Quinn with his next pitch, then gave up a run-scoring single to Mayne. He got out of the rest of the inning unscathed and departed because of the back stiffness despite throwing only 79 pitches.

"Had he carried the no-hitter through the sixth inning, he certainly would have gone back out for the seventh," manager Mike Hargrove said. "The other part of the equation [the bad back], we would have dealt with if it came up. But we felt like he had had enough, and he indicated that [he was ready to come out]."

The night had an unusual tone right from the start, when Orioles leadoff batter Brady Anderson was ejected three pitches into the game for arguing a borderline strike call. Restrained first by third base coach Tom Trebelhorn, then by Hargrove, Anderson jawed at home plate umpire Tim Timmons for several minutes before finally exiting the field amid a chorus of boos from the crowd of 17,266 at Kauffman Stadium.

Brian Roberts came in to pinch-hit for Anderson with a 1-2 count and still managed to draw a walk. He stole second and took third when catcher Mayne's throw sailed into the outfield. Melvin Mora, who moved from shortstop to center field once Anderson was ejected, tapped a slow roller to short that allowed Roberts to score the Orioles' first run.

Three more Baltimore players crossed home plate in the fourth, thanks in part to David Segui's first triple of the season and an RBI single by Bigbie that scored Chris Richard all the way from first base. Tony Batista's triple off the top of the left-field fence the Orioles' third three-base hit in two days after totaling 12 as a team through their first 112 games made the score 5-0 and gave Maduro plenty of cushion.

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